The Seychelles has one of the highest standards of living when it is compared to countries in continental Africa. In 1999 the GDP per capita was equivalent to US$7,500 (estimated at purchasing power parity ). During the first 2 decades after independence in 1976, the government attempted to reduce social polarization through state control over economic activities and by creation of the parastatals. Education has been accessible to the majority of the population, and the literacy rate is 84.2 percent. However, since the middle of the 1990s there has emerged evidence of increasing diversification of incomes and social polarization.